Hello from the jungly part of Colombia.
The United States of America is going through a lot and I would like everyone reading my blog to take a moment and smile at someone new today and ask, “How are you?” Do it sincerely and genuinely. Hug your family and others and say I love you and thank you at least 50 times a day.
Please don’t forget to stay human. Please don’t forget that we are all humans. Please open your heart to empathize. Get out of your comfort zone to understand.
The United States of America needs many hugs and words of encouragement. Please help spread the love. Colombia gives a big sweaty hug to the United States of America for fast healing.
Despite the occurrences of this past week, I am doing well. I am gaining weight because my high-waisted jeans no longer feel comfortable nor provide concealing support of my belly. So, I suppose that reveals that I am not starving…
I went through some rocky down points, but bounced back up with the support of a few things and people.
Thank you shout out to the following:
- Barbara, one of my PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) friends, who offered her home to me to publish this blog. God bless Barbara and her sexy WiFi.
- WhatsApp’s audio recording to and from my brotha from anotha motha, Ronald.
- The best go-away gift from my best friend, Amber.
- Milo cookies. Please Google them.
- My sitemate, Galen, his company, and consideration of my love for cookies. We met up to hang out and brought cookies saying, “I brought some cookies for you knowing you’d get hungry.”
- Books from my high school English teacher, Wendi.
- And YOU. You reading this blog. I put in a lot of effort to share my experiences and my sweat, emotions, and love are laced in every word. Thank you.
So remember training ended April 15th and I moved to my site? And whoa it’s July.
With baby steps, I am slowly getting a better idea of what all is here in my site, who to go to for whatever reason, and explored a few of the other villages of the Troncal (Troncal is the highway that all the villages lie next to). I sense the students that love learning English or learning in general, the students that make me want to rip out my hair, the potential for growth of an idea or a student’s behavior or learning, and how I really need to work out like my life depended on it…soon.
Vamos – Let’s GOOOO
I would like to share with yall one of Colombia’s village gems here called, Don Diego. It is where the Teyuna civilization (think of Aztecs, Mayans, indigenous tribes) lived and now where lies a hostel called, Taironaka, that is built around the ruins. One of my teacher friends, Arnol, teacher of Eco-Tourism and Physical Education at my Perico Aguao school, gave me a tour of Taironaka. We hiked up the mountain and I will celebrate the day when I get accustomed to the dang mosquitoes here. Arnol laughed heartily saying, “Oh, I am accustomed to the mosquitoes,” as he hiked with Crocs slippers (CROCS!) and shorts baring his legs. Here I am with a capris-like pants, reeking of toxic bug repellant, and still suffering from the mosquitoes.
Take a look at the houses, where the Sacerdote and Cacique (basically, boss #1 and boss #2 of the Teyuna) lived, and how cherubic I look. Look closely at the rock formation: perfect circles.
Also..I ripped my pants trying to cross barbed wire. Living life on the edge, guys. Living life on the edge.
One of my PCV friends, Jackie, lives in Aracataca. Aracataca has a population of 52,000 and is famous for being the home of Colombia’s Nobel Peace Prize author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He was known as Gabo. I went to see his museum and there were tons of yellow butterflies and his history.
My other PCV friends, Helena and Audrey, live in Fundación. Fundación is known for the heat and is also known as Fundición. In English, Fundición means foundry, and foundry means a metal casting factory. Basically, I visited them to enter a metal casting factory to be melted into smithereens.
Fundación and Aracataca are way bigger cities than mine. My village has maybe 200-300 people. Fundación has 82,000 and had restaurants, shops, ATM machines, grocery stores, and a bakery store called Mundo Tortas – Bread World. I couldn’t stop saying how cool everything was. I was a kid at the candy store, who didn’t know what candy was until at that point in time.
I walked with Audrey to visit the River of Fundación and ran into an old meeting place of a Rotary Club, an international service organization, which made my heart swell with pride because I was heavily involved in Rotary during my high school and university years.
Random life events:
At my other school in Buritaca, we celebrated environment day and planted mango and orange trees. I also greeted a parrot that wanted to bite me.
Sofi turned 8 on July 1st and I mentally and physically prepared myself for that party. There were tons of children and I was baby sitter, party helper, trash picker-upper, cake-cutter, and dynamic coordinator. My sister is seriously a princess.
I visited the olla – pot, or in this case, body of water, of Perico Aguao, with my teacher friend, Arnol. This is a sacred body of water of the Arhuaco indigenous people. I took a nap on the rock there and felt like a million bucks after. So, I don’t know if yall saw my Instagram photo (look to the right of my blog!!!) but I got a new bike. Yay. But not so much because the seat is soooooo hard and my bike was so very stiff. My dear bum and loins suffered greatly, but the sites were worth the pain. Kind of. ;P
I went to visit my neighbor, Yerlys’ family in Mercatalia (a little ways away from me on the Troncal) and got gifted a guanabana. It is a prickly fruit as you see here and it’s pulpy and soooooo good. I feel proud when I receive gifts like fruits. I carry it around like it’s a golden star. Not only does my Korean-ness attract non-stop staring and attention, the fruits help me look a little Colombian. People bring all sorts of things onto the bus such as chickens, luggage bags of all shapes and sizes, and whatever else. INTEGRATION, YES!
Look at my Perico Aguao students! I had an informal, independent test prep class during summer vacation for the 11th graders and it was a very good class. I feel all the potential. Then, there are my 7th graders that are plain goofy.
This here is my best investment from the city of Santa Marta. This bear lamp. It was 7,000 Colombian pesos which is like 2 US dollars. It is chargeable and when the power goes out, I just turn this baby on and I feel very wealthy because I don’t use a candle. Haha.
My dear little sister teaches me so many things without her even knowing it. So a little bit about her….She LOVES playing outside. LOVES playing. She is always outside. She’s a sweaty mess every day. So, one day, she begged my mom to go out and ride her bicycle for a lap, but it was getting dark so my mom said no. She was crying so hard and pleading, “Mami, por que no?!?!?!!??! Momentico, momentico!!!!!!!!” – “Mom, why?! For just a little moment, just a little moment!!!” FYI, Colombians add “ico” “ito” to the end of words to emphasize the word or express the meaning of just a little bit!
Ok. So, after maybe 2 minutes of this constant back and forth of…
Sofi: “MAMIIIIII MOMENTICO MOMENTICO!!!”
Sofi: “MAMIIIIII MOMENTICO MOMENTICO!!!”
Mom: “NO! SILENCIO!!!!!!!!”
And 1 minute later, my mom asks Sofi if she wants an arepa with cheese (arepas are fried flour pancake things), Sofi immediately stops crying, and asks for more cheese.
I mean, talk about a fast recovery. If you are sad, just model Sofi. Cry it all out and bounce right back up again. Tip: use food as encouragement.
I am happy to say, I have been building my tolerance against the heat and feeling more energetic. For those of you who know me, I am a fitness freak. I am ashamed I haven’t had done any real working out when I got here in January, but in June, I started jump-roping. Baby steps!
Now it is July, I feel I am taking control of my life. Boy, how great does that feel. Little things like not being able to do my own laundry when I want to due to 1390834 different variables such as my mom is using the machine, or the power is out, or the sun is not out for the clothes to dry, etc etc or cook when I want to because our kitchen is limited, it’s a hot mess in there because my mom cooked a feast, or I am just so tired to move my body…really really drove me crazy. But now, I turned the tables around. I tell my mom I am going to do laundry prior. So basically, I give forewarning. Hahaha. Cooking? I strategize around the traffic times where my mom is in the kitchen. It’s a work in progress, but I am getting there, folks. I really deserve a beer for that.
OH! Here is a public service announcement…Please “like” our Peace Corps Colombia Facebook Page! It’s a portal where we share all volunteers’ experiences!
I love you all and I hope you remember what I told you in the beginning of my blog.
Say I love you and thank you 50 times a day.